Caunes-Minervois, Occitania, France
The Châteaux de Lastours are four so-called Cathar castles in the French commune of Lastours in the département of l'Aude. The four castles are on a rocky spur above the village of Lastours. Cabaret, Surdespine and La Tour Régine stand in line, while Quertinheux is built on a separate pinnacle close by.
About Lastours Castle
The Châteaux de Lastours are 4 so-called Cathar castles in the French commune of Lastours. The castles are on a rocky spur above the village of Lastours: Cabaret, Surdespine and La Tour Régine stand in line, while Quertinheux is built on a separate pinnacle close by. These four castles constitute a single entity, although they are not a single structure.
Lastours Castle history
The natural layout of the site allowed for a fortress of great height, and plans were adapted to the rocks on which they were built. The construction of each castle is different, reflecting the range of alterations made to the castles.
Probably only three castles were built in the 11th century and their sites evolved over the years following demolition and successive rebuilding. The four castles were on the top of a crest on a north-south axis, allowing them to control the principal access routes into the Cabardès and the Montagne Noire regions. During the Cathar Crusade, Lastours Castle was one of the most ardent places of resistance to the French.
Lastours Castle today
Today, the castles are some of the only remaining Cathar castles. Cabaret is the main citadel and features a barbican defence system, north tower, a polygonal keep in the south and a group of residential buildings in the centre all surrounded by ramparts with a round walk.
The Tour Régine, closest to Cabaret, is the most recent fortress and the smallest. It consists of a round tower, surrounded by a small curtain wall which has collapsed. Below ground, the tower contains the largest cistern of the four castles and is flanked by a spiral staircase. It is thought that this tower was built after the Albigensian Crusade: the name (Régine = Royal) suggests as much, and there is no written evidence of its existence prior to 1260.
Surdespine is the least preserved of the four. On the highest part of the site, it consists of a square tower, a house and a cistern. A rectangular curtain wall gives protection. It is noted for the rarity of its murder holes and its four semicircular arched windows.
The Quertinheux castle is furthest south along the crest on an isolated rocky outcrop. Today it consists of a circular tower and a polygonal curtain wall overlooks the remains of a destroyed Romanesque church.
Getting to Lastours Castle
Only 10 miles north of Carcassonne, Lastours Castle stands just off the windy D101 close to the D118. The drive to Carcassonne is only 23 minutes.
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